From Social Lunch to Broadway Brunch
Thu 2 Apr 11AM
Do you know that apart from presenting circus and family shows we also deliver an exciting array of community projects? Our participation team works with people of all ages in Haringey to increase arts engagement in the community. In this blog series we’ll be looking at the amazing work they do, starting with the Social Lunch/Broadway Brunch project.
Social Lunch at Jacksons Lane
The first Social Lunch started in September 2012. A monthly social gathering for pensioners with a two-course meal and performances, it has brought together an intergenerational community of participants and volunteers. Anyone who has been a part of Social Lunch would tell you it is really lively. Our very supportive artists perform acts ranging from musical, magic, circus to contemporary dance, and the day always ends with lots of cheers and laughter.
From Social Lunch to Broadway Brunch
Because of its success, we recently partnered with Homes for Haringey to bring this much-loved event to their 24 sheltered accommodation schemes in the borough. This special project is named Broadway Brunch, a nod to the show tunes which have been a recurring theme of the lunch entertainment. Every month Broadway Brunch visits two housing schemes, one in the east and one in the west of the borough, on a rotating basis.
The project is not just about keeping our pensioners entertained and well fed. Jason Keen, Supported Housing Team Leader of Homes for Haringey, explained: “by providing a safe space for older people to meet and enjoy a two course meal, it opens up the opportunity for people to develop friendships, meet new people and enjoy lively entertainment. There is also an informative aspect to the brunch, whereby we invite local organisations to have a slot to talk about local issues, update residents on news and services within the area which may be relevant.”
Rave Reviews of Broadway Brunch
The very first Broadway Brunch took place on 26th January and Jason told us about the positive feedback received from both staff and residents. The scheme managers are impressed with how interactive the event is, and really enjoy watching the residents singing along and getting up and dancing. The residents are blown away by the entertainment provided, and shocked that we managed to invite West End and television actors to be a part of the event. On one lunch participants were joined by Carolyn Pickles (Broadchurch, Coronation Street), needless to say they were all pleasantly surprised!
So what do our participants think of this rather unique lunch gathering? Michael Kaye, a Social Lunch/Broadway Brunch regular has lived in Hornsey for five years. He started attending the Social Lunch in October last year and since then has “never looked back.” He described the event as “absolutely fantastic – food, entertainment, it is so good. It’s a pity it’s not long enough!”
As a music lover Michael greatly enjoyed the musical acts, but surprisingly his favourite is an improvised dance piece by an actress and a dancer from Birmingham Royal Ballet. Michael told us that he has “never seen anything like it, it was superb!”
A Borough United
Broadway Brunch has created a unique space where participants can enjoy delicious food, great performances and make friends in the process. Together we hope to reduce social isolation amongst older people, help keep their minds active and healthy, and encourage them to develop new relationships.
To make the event available to all 24 of the accommodation schemes with over 1200 residents, Broadway Brunch depends on the support of everyone in the community. To name but a few, the project lead, scheme managers from Homes for Haringey, volunteer performers and the caterers have all come together to make it happen. And the project wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of The Mercers’ Company.
“If we had our way we would have one weekly!” Jason commented when asked what was next for Broadway Brunch. We hope that the project could continue beyond its initial funding, and based on the current model we could explore ways to further develop engaging activities for older people. For instance, Jason has plans to work with our project lead to create drama workshops tackling social issues faced by older people such as memory and loss.
We also asked Michael about the future of social lunch, towards which he answered, “I’ll come every time!”